Surrey’s Debbie Richards equalled her personal best with a two-under par 70 to take the first round lead in the English senior women’s stroke play championship at Shanklin and Sandown Golf Club on the Isle of Wight.
The Burhill player (image © Leaderboard Photography) is one shot clear of playing partner and former champion, Sue Dye of Cheshire. British senior champion Katherine Russell of Sussex and her predecessor, Felicity Christine of Surrey, are a further stroke behind, after both returned level par scores.
Debbie, who won the second flight competition at the English senior women’s amateur championship earlier this year, carried her good form into this event. She started with a pair of birdies, added two more on the 4th and 13th and dropped her only shots on the 15th and 17th, a par three of 220-yards. “I was a bit nervous at that point,” she admitted.
“I didn’t know my score while I was playing, but I knew I was doing reasonably well. It’s my best in one of these events and it equals my personal best,” added Debbie, who putted consistently well throughout the round. “I’ve had a lovely day – but tomorrow is another day!”
Playing partner Sue Dye (Delamere Forest) also birdied the first hole on her way to amassing a total of six birdies in her round. “I could have been three or four better, but I’ll take it because playing in a championship isn’t easy,” she said.
Sue’s ball striking was impressive and she’s crediting continuous play through the winter: “I normally put my clubs away but last winter I played enough to keep me going and it’s been good.”
Defending champion Janet Melville (Sherwood Forest) is currently in a share of eighth place after scoring three-over 75, which included four birdies but ended with a double bogey on the last. Janet has already won the English senior amateur title this season.
Meanwhile, Cheshire’s Cath Rawthore (pictured left © Leaderboard Photography) is hoping for third time lucky tomorrow when she tees up. Last week, she was using her tried and tested driver when the head flew off in mid-swing and hit her on the back of her head. “I’ve still got the lump,” she remarked.
She got a replacement and headed to the driving range to practice – but six shots later the head flew off. Today she played with her daughter’s club, but her repaired driver was shipped to Shanklin and Sandown and is ready for use tomorrow.
Cath, (Sale) who was a semi-finalist at the senior amateur championship, said: “I didn’t feel comfortable at all today but hopefully I’ll get my driver going tomorrow and be in some better positions. She took 77 today and shares 11th place.
After tomorrow’s second round the field will be cut to leading 36 players and ties who will play the final round on Thursday.